Saturday, 1 April 2017

Discussing Peter Doig’s Source Material for his Early Painting

(Source: Scott, K 2007, ‘In conversation with Peter Doig’, in Doig, P., 1959, Searle, A., Scott, K. & Grenier, C. 2007, Peter Doig, Phaidon Press, London; New York, N.Y.

Peter Doig in his interview with Kitty Scott talk about some of the sources of his of the paintings.

He mentions that one of his paintings was based on a postcard of the crown Jules they got in London. Demonstrating that his source material could be varied and often from printed secondary sources. He also talked about the subject matter for his early painting Friday the 13th, 1987. Doig says that "The source for this painting is a dream sequence in the original Friday the 13th." A couple of things struck him about that moment in the classic horror film, he says he saw a relationship to Munch and "the plain beauty of this still moment amidst all the carnage" and he explains that it was more of a gut reaction and the process that he'd never done before, that is painting from a film. It also emphasises the importance of the feeling that the movement created, even if it was in a film.

Doig talks about the influence of Canada so the subject matter of his paintings during the early 90s. "Going back to Canada when I was a little bit older, I realised how much I had absorbed there. It now felt important." Later in the same paragraph, "…a lot of the imagery I used for these paintings were things that reminded me of my experience rather than things that were directly from my experience." He emphasises also he never used family photographs the implication being he found his visual material from secondary sources such as travel books.

Doig also explains that some of his paintings which look like Canada are in fact not. He says, "Ski Jacket (1994) was based upon a photograph from a Toronto newspaper of a Japanese ski resort. It reminded me of a black and white oriental scroll painting."

Scott asks him about the treatment of source photographs and Doig explains that sometimes paint spilled or was sprayed on adding an unexpected layer. For him it takes the reality away from the photograph and turns it into a more abstract image. In a way what he is saying is he's added an effect to the photograph so that he can move one step away from what it originally looked like. This is something I am recognising in my own source material for when I upscale and print out some of the photographs I take they often become distorted through the printing process, largely because they are printed on substandard inkjet printers.

What could be his implication through using this process and did happen by accident?

Doig talks about his painting Cabin Essence 1993-94, "I had no desire to paint it on its own, but seeing it through the trees, that is when I found it striking." This statement also demonstrates that Doig is willing to open himself to experiences that were real, things that he lived through, rather than just based on source material such as magazines or photographs. At that moment he was struck by experience and captured it through film. He then later effected some of these photographs by splashing paint on them as can be seen in his archive. He was obviously interested in enhancing the mystical feeling within the painting.

Peter Doig, Cabin Essence 1993-94, Oil on Canavs
When talking about his paintings as he did in the early 90s Doig explains that much of the work around the time was clean, contemporary, slick looking and that, "I didn't want to become part of that world I purposely made works that were handmade and homely looking, and this is often the subject of the work as well." He is saying here that he didn't want to produce work that is typical of the time, that he didn't want to copy, but his work is a direct response to the time because reflects a conscious decision to do something different. Without one he wouldn't be the other, his style was becoming a reaction and that way he could have isolated himself, and in fact did, but it also allowed him to develop his own style.

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